Thursday, 2 August 2012

More research finds stress something to worry about

Psychological distress, even at relatively low levels, is linked to an increased risk of death, a new study shows.

For the study, which was published July 31 in the journal BMJ, researchers analyzed data on more than 68,000 adults over age 35 who took part in England's National Health Survey from 1994 to 2004.
Researchers found that subjects who were even slightly distressed -- such as those who sometimes had trouble sleeping due to worry -- were about 20 percent more likely to die over a ten-year period compared to people who reported no such symptoms. The researchers controlled for other unhealthy behaviors often linked to stress, such as smoking or drinking, as well as exercise, weight, and factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
In a separate study, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital from Boston found that women suffering phobic anxiety, such as fear of heights, had shorter telomeres, the outermost part of chromosomes that shorten as we age, than their less-stressed counterparts.
Want to slash your stress levels? Earlier research found that subjects who practiced Buddhist meditation significantly decreased both cortisol and blood pressure, two signs of stress, in a six-week study.